Advertising your business in today’s fast paced world is hard. Between fighting for attention amongst competitors, trying to communicate something meaningful in an ever-shrinking time frame and doing it all in a way that’s actually affordable, it’s no wonder most businesses come up short when stacking advertising budgets alongside returns.
The secret to keeping up with marketing these days isn’t about saying something louder than everyone else or throwing everything into a specific campaign and hoping it hits the mark. Instead, it’s about tying all of your smaller efforts together to create one gigantic, ongoing, cohesive campaign that will make a lasting impression on those people who find themselves within your casting range. It’s called multi-channel marketing and it’s the Holy Grail for small businesses that take the time to learn how to effectively pursue it.
Why is it effective?
As the name might imply, multi-channel marketing is all about utilizing numerous advertising channels to cast a wider net. The reason it works is because it takes into account a few key points:
- Attention spans are shrinking. Multi-channel marketing targets consumers in small doses at a time, giving you long enough to communicate your message while remaining short enough to be digested by whoever views it.
- Repetition is key in advertising. Successful multi-channel marketing campaigns will use similar visuals, messages and monikers to create a pattern that consumers can identify and piece together.
- People’s attentions are all over the place. From browsing the Internet on a laptop, to texting on a smartphone, to getting the mail, to walking down the street and looking at billboards… the world is an advertising medium, but getting someone’s attention means being everywhere they’re looking all at once.
- Accessibility is everything. If your consumers can’t act on a message in some way, then you’ve lost the connection between viewership and patronage. Multi-channel marketing ensures that no matter where your message is seen, some call to action is present to bridge the gap between seeing and doing.
How does it work?
Think of multi-channel marketing like braiding different colors of string together: each strip represents a different medium of communication, while the entire braid represents the message. Once bound together, every strand within the braid is locked in tightly and the braid can be viewed as the sum of its parts.
Multi-channel marketing only works if every aspects of the entire campaign is planned out individually, then pieced together in a group. Take a look at a basic, three-way multi-channel marketing approach example:
Bob’s Bakery has opened a new location in Baker Town, USA and, in an effort to get the word out about their new location, the bakery decides to advertise a buy one, get one free offer on donuts—all people have to do is visit the bakery on opening day. And, in preparation for this promotion, the bakery decides to advertise.
Postcards will be sent to every residential location within a five-mile radius through an every door direct mail (EDDM) campaign, two billboards will go up within five miles of the bakery and fliers will be posted in other small businesses within a five-mile radius. Each marketing material will function as such:
- The postcard will be a direct advertisement and a hard sell. “Come to Bob’s Bakery on opening day and get a free donut.”
- The billboards will be for general awareness. “New in town: Bob’s Bakery—the best donuts you’ve never had!”
- The fliers will be a constant, visual reminder of Bob’s Bakery for local shoppers and will have a soft sell.
In the example, each marketing channel plays a fundamental role in the overall goal: to get customers in the door and brand recognition up. And, when paired together in true multi-channel marketing fashion, the result is widespread awareness and a call to action that works far better than any single campaign.
Finally, one of the best things about multi-channel marketing is the ability to measure exposure, interaction and even retention in your customer base. By advertising to distinct channels, you’re able to track each individual channel’s success and juxtapose them against the overall success of the campaign, like so:
Bob’s Bakery ask everyone to fill out a quick, one question survey before getting their free donut: “how did you hear about us?” The options are: postcard, billboard, flyer and word of mouth.
At the end of opening day, the bakery has 100 surveys, marked as so: 50 postcard, 20 word of mouth, 15 flyer and 5 billboard. Looking at each individual channel of the multi-channel campaign, the bakery is able to learn which methods of advertising are better than others and formulate new strategies for next time.
The data that can be gleaned from utilizing multiple advertising channels is invaluable to marketing better in the future and when you’re working with a multi-channel campaign, this data becomes readily available. Learning from past marketing makes for smarter marketing in the future.
The next time you’re putting together an advertising campaign, take another look at it and see if it could benefit from a multi-channel approach. There’s a better than average chance it will and if you take the time to plan the right approach on every level, the collaborative effect might be larger than you anticipated!